Open Source Crowdfunding Goal Reached: AltDrag 1.0
Congratulations to AltDrag users, and its developer Stefan Sundin, for reaching his funding goal of $1,000. The funds will enable Stefan to devote time to further improve the project and release version 1.0. Supported by its users and the open source community, AltDrag brings Linux functionality to Windows. Users can, “hold down the Alt key and then click and drag any window. Besides just moving windows, you can resize, maximize and close them too. AltDrag simply allows you to do more with less mouse movements.” Check out AltDrag on Google Code.
But beyond just feeling good that an open source project has some valuable time set aside for it, we want to help others understand how the goal of $1,000 was reached. That way more open source developers can apply some of the same methods. Here are a couple things that were different in this funding effort.
First, in his crowdfunding description, Stefan became the first developer on Catincan to align pledges with feature requests and bug fixes. Every $10 pledged enabled a user to have one vote towards a feature request or open issue. For pledges of $100+ Stefan would discuss with the backer via video, voice or email for 1-2 hours any new features for AltDrag with him coding it live on the spot.
Second, while we advise developers to integrate some kind of notification of their crowdfunding effort into their project, AltDrag was the first to do this. This is especially important for projects without a mailing list or blog with a large following. For AltDrag, Stefan notified users of the crowdfunding on Google code but also added a screen to the Windows installer that was dedicated to informing users of the funding campaign.
Some developers don’t want to do this because of a fear that they’re being too “salesy” but this isn’t pushy at all. The fact is, if a project’s users don’t know about potential improvements they can help make happen, they aren’t even being given a chance to show their support for the developer and open source. Users should at least be given the courtesy to be informed. And, because different users interact with projects in a variety of ways, developers have to communicate to them in a variety of ways (issue tracker, social media, mailing list, etc).
So from this open source crowdfunding success a couple takeaways are: 1. Give users a voice in the project. Make yourself available to them, understanding that your time is not 100% free and it’s ok that this special attention has a cost. And, 2. Notify your users in a variety of ways, keeping in mind how they interact with your project. You don’t have to become a salesman or marketer, just give your project’s users a chance to support your work and see what happens.